Can a Collar Hurt My Dog? It Depends.

Collars are a great way to keep your pet identified while showing off their style - but most pet owners are not aware of the potential harm collars can cause when not used correctly. You may be asking yourself the question: Can a collar hurt my dog? It depends.

We care about keeping your pets safe, so we’ve compiled information on the risks of incorrectly using collars. We’ve even included some practical solutions so that you can make an informed decision on how to use your dog’s collar.

Collar Burn

Choosing the correct collar for your dog is step one. Collar burn can be caused by the collar being too tight or by certain allergies. Some dogs are allergic to materials such as metals or nylon. This can result in skin irritation or loss of fur.


If you notice collar burn on your dog’s neck, it is best to remove the collar until the neck heals. To help aid in the healing process, you can apply coconut oil to the affected area. Once healed, replace the collar with a hypoallergenic one.

Collars that use hemp fibers for the strap are great for dogs with sensitive skin or allergies. Hemp is hypoallergenic and has non-irritating characteristics.

If you’d like to see some of the other great qualities of hemp, check out this collar.

The Right Fit

Collars that are too tight can cause severe neck wounds. Animals have been found with lacerations or collars embedded into their neck. It is important - especially with a growing pup - to regularly check the fit of the collar.


A good rule of thumb - use your thumb. Adjust your dog’s collar so that you can easily fit your thumb between their neck and the collar. Do this while your dog is sitting and while he is lying down. A dog’s weight redistributes when they are in different positions - so a collar that fits when sitting up may be too tight while lying down.


There is a long list of horrible stories about dogs getting their collars stuck on furniture, air ducts, fence posts or even their own crates. If dogs get caught on something, their first instinct is to pull to get free. This can result in terrible injuries or even strangulation.


If your dog isn’t an escape artist, you may want to take their collar off when they are home by themselves. This way they won’t get caught on anything while you’re not around.

If you feel safer leaving their collar on at all times, think about investing in a safety collar. These have a ring in the center that allows flexibility. If your dog catches their collar on something, the ring makes it easier for them to move around or even slip out.


It seems that dogs love nothing more than pulling on their leash. When a leash is connected to a collar and a dog pulls, a lot of damage can be caused.

Many people believe that dog’s necks are naturally built tough. The truth is, your dog’s neck is very similar to your own. Tugging will put pressure on the trachea, esophagus and spinal cord. This can result in thyroid issues, damage to nerves in the front legs, seizures or even paralysis. Caryl Wolff explains these issues further in her article Could Pulling on a Leash Hurt Your Dog.


A few simple ways to avoid such damage is to use a martingale collar or harness whenever you have your dog on a leash.

Martingale collars are naturally loose and tighten when the dog tugs on the leash. These provide you with more control without choking or causing a sudden jerking motion.

Harnesses take the pressure off of the neck and distribute it throughout the torso.

Even if your dog doesn’t pull on a leash, it is still a good idea to use a harness. There may come a situation where you need to quickly pull your dog out of the way. For example, a car could jump a curb and you need to yank on the leash to get your dog out of the way of danger. Thankfully they wouldn’t be hurt by the car, but the impact from the pull on the leash could cause lasting damage.

Invest in a sturdy harness that will last your dog for years to come. Traditional harnesses are a great option. If your dog is a leash puller, consider a no-pull harness.

Keep in mind that dogs do not show pain in the same way we do. Your dog may be acting normal even if their collar is uncomfortable.

As long as you are aware of the potential dangers of incorrectly using collars and take action to avoid them, collars can be a great, safe resource for ensuring your pet is returned home if they wander off.